Act Accordingly

So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

In case it has slipped your mind or you didn’t know, this is who you are. God, our Creator made you just like Him. You are an image bearer, a child of God. This is your true identity. 

Psuche (pronounced psoo-khay) is Greek for soul, life, self. Soul which is a persons distinct identity. This also means the vital breath, breath of life. It makes sense that who we are made up of comes from vital breath.

 “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭ 

Identity doesn’t  come from who we are or what we do, it comes from whose we are. The foundation of who we are does not have to change in the face of our circumstances, frustration or disappointment. Instead when we are rooted in the whose, the rest can fall away. It certainly can be difficult to stand in deep waters but it does not have to drown us. 

Graham Cooke said this,”Your identity is the key to transformation. You don’t become a new person by changing your behaviour. You discover the person you already are in Christ and act accordingly.”

If you haven’t already started, get on the quest to discover what the gift of Jesus entails. Imagine for a moment with me that you have been given this gift, free now, but given by the greatest sacrifice of one perfect life, will you open it? 

It is all yours, all you need to do is open it and accept it. The only side effect is that it can create an attitude of gratitude in you. Are you willing to be thankful? Are you ready to be forgiven? Are you ready to open it?  Jesus died for it. Come, just as you are. 

Pray with me if you are. Dear Lord, please help me to accept the gift of life you have so freely given. Forgive me for the ways I have sinned against you.  I believe that Jesus died for me and for my sins and shame and to give me eternal life. Thank you that you are the way and the truth and the life and because of this I am now a new creation. Help me to discover who I am in Christ and act accordingly. Thank you for your great love. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

If you prayed this prayer with me, welcome to the family! You just made the best decision of your life. The angels are rejoicing. Please comment below if this was you, I want to pray for you. 

Sacrificial Standard 

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”‭‭Psalm‬ ‭127:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I have been reading about Abraham lately with fascination of the promise made to him. He was referred to as ‘good as dead’ when he received the promise that he would be the father of many nations. Yet he had a son at the age of 100. The part that boggles my mind though is when God asked him to make Isaac a burnt offering to the Lord, his only son, and he was willing. 

If you aren’t familiar with the story, he didn’t have to do that. God stopped him at the 11th hour and provided a ram as a sacrifice. Still, I am not sure my faith would be strong enough to make the choice to do what God asked in that situation. 

The privilege of having children is a gift from God. Sometimes people think children are their own doing and God had nothing to do with it. The danger that occurs from that is that our children can become our hope and our standard. ‘Our expectations can crush them because we love them too much and we love God too little in relationship to them. ‘ Timothy Keller 

If we don’t love our kids through the lens of God’s love for us, we can become slaves to them. I have experienced both ends of this spectrum. I am blessed to have 3 gifts from God, 2 are grown adults, 1 a teenager. I raised my first two,  8 and 10 years of their lives with absolutely no lens of God filtering my parenting. 

Unfortunately for them I expected that having kids would make me happy. Little did I know I was trying to fill wounds by making ‘perfect’ children. 

I recently heard a quote from Lecrae that has rocked my thinking in many areas.

Believe the best about people. Pray for their shortcomings. YOU ARE NOT THE STANDARD. We all need grace. 

Guess which line jumped out at me. You see as I raised my girls and had no other source of hope, I thought I was the standard and they had to live up to that. In return I had many unrealistic expectations of their behaviour and actions. 

Once my son came along, I found Jesus when he was a baby and God became my hope. His word became my standard. I learned to have my expectancy in Jesus, not solely in my child. 

I don’t live in regret, guilt or shame of the mistakes I made parenting. I know all around I did what I thought was best and God filtered the rest. Did I make mistakes, absolutely. Do I still, yes. 

Now I am more aware of my own sin and that lowers the standard a lot. In a lot of areas, not just parenting. It is very easy to make our children little g gods. ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ Deuteronomy 5:7. This includes children we may put first before God. 

I used to put my children before everything until I had revelation that I am not the standard. God’s standard that has brought much fruit in my life and parenting is love God, love my husband, love my children. In that order. 

Only by an increasing revelation of Gods love and sacrifice for us will we be able to experience the willingness to lay our children down and trust God with them. 

Seek Him. Seek His standard. Seek His love. Your children will be blessed by it. 

How do you put your children before God?  Or your husband? In what ways can you lay them down before the altar and trust God with them? 

Fully Convinced

Often we need to hear things repeatedly to believe them to be true. God knows the right convincing point, the exact voice needed to speak it to bring the point home. His timing is always perfect. 

I have experienced this as a parent. You teach and guide and reiterate some things  numerous times. Then they come home and say listen to what so and so told me…and they are so excited about this ‘new’ idea. I bite my tongue (well most times) from saying do you know how many times I have told you that? 😳

Recently I was reminded that I am not exempt from this dilemma. I may have told the story about Grace from London, England. God sent her to me at the Joyce Meyer conference in St. Louis. Well actually between our metro and bus transfer. In our first 5 minutes of meeting she asked why I hadn’t written my book yet. Hammer the nail right off the bat. We continued to have some conversations that were convicting, confirming and encouraging about writing. 

Funny enough, prior to that trip I had been asking God to fully convince me this is what I was to be doing. As I was relaying this story to a friend she said well what was wrong with all of us telling you that?  This made me laugh and reflect about the truth of that statement. I realized that all the people in the world could tell me something but if it wasn’t the right timing or I wasn’t fully convinced of the truth myself, my heart wouldn’t receive the idea. 

You can’t coax my heart to believe, God has to do it and sometimes He uses many voices to do that. There were many layers to get through to be convinced of that particular truth. Like healing from feeling unworthy, being able to trust God called this out in me and has created me to do this. Then the layers of teaching me discipline, don’t even get me started on that. You get the idea. 

It is why the story of Abraham being fully persuaded of God’s abilities and not his own have been something I love. In Romans, Paul is telling about how old Abraham and Sarah were when they were promised a son to carry on the generations. And yet against all hope Abraham believed. 

Romans 4:20,21,’Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.’ 

I want to walk in that kind of faith, unwavering, trusting, believing. So that no matter what, I can walk my faith out. Even if the circumstances do not line up with what we know to be true. We can in faith call things that are not as though they were. 

So listen to the voices around you but test them with Gods word because He has the final say. There are times when immediately you will believe but sometimes we need to be fully convinced through process. 

What have you been hearing a lot lately? Here is a good test to see if it’s from God. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Anything contrary to God would not fit in these categories so be sure before you believe. Be open to speaking things to others as well, you may just be the convincing voice God uses. 

Finding Hope

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:22-25

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All throughout Scripture we are told to put our hope in God, that this is the only true hope. Yet for many of us, even those who know Jesus as Saviour, we allow disappointments to get in the way of our hope. Disappointment can take many forms when we try to fill our hope with things in this world. People and things are never any consolation for the hope God longs to give us. Yet we settle for these things often.

In the last few days I picked up where I left off purging my home a few weeks ago. It gives me great satisfaction to throw out, recycle, and reorganize less things. I actually feel physically/emotionally/spiritually lighter. For me, it allows space to breathe and facilitates healing in places I have been overwhelmed.

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This portion of purging along with many other drawers and cabinets included a drawer in my dresser that was packed full of cards. It was in this space that God showed me to be a little more empathic of people’s emotional attachments to some things. I found cards my kids had written in or made, cards from sweet friends full of life giving words, standard family cards and the cards I have apparently been saving for 9 years since Mom’s suicide.

To be honest I did not know or remember that I had been saving those sympathy cards. For the first few years they did serve a purpose as I would reflect about how God had been healing my heart and it made me be intentional to take time to grieve. I remembered how so many people had gathered around us during that time. How God showed up.

Recently my friend told me about a process when decluttering. It was from a book that has given her  much insight. Clutter Busting your Life by Brooks PalmerMr. Palmer goes through a home with a client and one item at a time, he says how is this serving you? Often the item has no purpose in that way or they get to the emotions in it and people are able to release things they haven’t for years. It is very freeing.

And it was for most things, except these cards. I held them and I wept for that season, for Mom, for friends and I released my disappointments that I had allowed to pile up. Just like those cards. And I threw them away. There was sorrow attached to those things but not despair. I had experienced the hope of God and know without doubt that my hope initiated during that season was triggered by my faith.

In the book, Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller, he said,” Sorrow is pain for which there are sources of consolation. It comes from losing one good thing among others. Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. When you lose the ultimate source of your meaning or hope, there are no alternative sources to turn to. It breaks your spirit.”

God’s hope protects us from despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8,9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

So be careful where you place your hope. Choose wisely what you build your life around. We are created with a longing for God and relationship but unless we choose Him first, we will try to fill those longings with people and stuff. What are you hoping for? Where does your meaning lie?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

 

 

 

 

 

In Remembrance

The collective sorrow of this day that is commemorated around the world almost overwhelmed me today. In Canada, we call it Remembrance Day and I cannot write today without acknowledging its presence. Every year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the two minutes of silence receives my utmost respect and thanksgiving.field-1387231_640

At the National War Memorial in Ottawa, countless numbers of Canadians braved the cold wind to honour those that have died for our freedom. One elderly gentleman who served was asked what goes through your mind during the silence and he said it just goes blank. He was then overcome with emotion, 70 years after he served.  A testament to the deep, long lasting effects that war can induce in a heart.lestweforget-928138_640

Every year the sacrifices given by these men and women so that we are able to live in a free country goes deeper into my heart. I have relatives that served but did not lose their life and so I cannot relate in that way. My gratitude and empathy for those amazing families and their loved ones that died is deeply heartfelt. 

I can’t help but think of the sacrifice that Jesus gave us at this time. I think because we take our freedom for granted in this country where we are so blessed. We forget all the war and strife and instability because it is not our everyday reality unlike many countries in the world. Even when people serve our country, it may be easy to forget or take that for granted because the war is not here. Not the one we can see anyway.

Just like men and women have given their lives,  Jesus did that for the ultimate freedom. We can live freely in our country because men and women have fought for it but we can live forever in heaven because Jesus freely gave His life. 

John 3:16’For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ 

 So to Jesus and to all who gave their lives. Words are not enough. 

 

Competing Lines

Galatians 5:13,”You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

There is a fine line between a lot of things in life. Between brilliance and insanity, love and hate, pleasure and pain, bravery and stupidity, you get the picture. We need to determine where that line is and navigate our way around it. One area that came to mind is competition. There can be healthy competition to spur us on and press into things with more excellence. This line can quickly deteriorate when comparison blurs the lines or we are trying to defeat someone to build ourselves up.

Humility is key.key-123554_640

Humility positions us to receive God’s grace that enables us to be all we were created to be. It is not a weakness as it is often perceived to be. In fact it is quite the opposite. Pride keeps our focus on ourselves and humility keeps our focus on God. Competing through the filter of comparison builds false pride in our hearts and doesn’t allow us to be free to be who we are.

The apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians mainly to bring truth to the church. Judaizers, or those that believed Gentile (non-Jewish) believers had to submit to Jewish law and traditions in addition to believing in Christ were dividing the church. Paul responded by teaching that salvation was by God’s grace and Nothing Else. He taught that faith in Christ meant true freedom. (Life Application Study Bible NIV)

So imagine with me, the pull on the believers of that time to follow deeply rooted religion and traditions or to move into the freedom that was offered as a gift. Only God can pull out the deep roots in us in such a way as to leave things behind that don’t serve a life of liberty. This truth still stands today. After Paul admonishes that his brothers and sisters in the church were called to be free, he goes on to say in verses 14 & 15, ‘For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’

See sometimes the enemy does not need to hand hold the whole process of destroying someone. He just needs to plant a seed into a heart missing the fine lines and before you know it, it can slither its way into a full-grown tree of bitterness and resentment. Living in unforgiveness can then cause the seeds to drop into other available places of emptiness.

Insecurity can drive someone to compare and covet another’s gifts or possessions.This can move into belief that they themselves are unworthy. It can grow into jealousy and fits of rage that they aren’t blessed themselves. It becomes a competition to see who is better, often with the other being unaware there even is a competition. Bad mouthing and gossip result in an effort to try to stifle the insecurities. See how that circle spiralled into sin. I have been that person in the past and so I can speak into that. Pride kept me stuck.

I can also speak into the saving grace and freedom of Christ. Humility opened the door.

The goal is this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23

The fuel is this: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 road-908176_640

Pick your race and start running. Read Galatians, soak in the truth of your freedom in Christ. If you don’t know Jesus yet, read Romans and get the truth of the right road.

Lord open our eyes to stay in your lines. Help us when we are deceived by our wounds and hurt. Help us to walk a life of humility and forgiveness. Help us to display your fruit and to serve one another in humility and love. Help us to build others up and not tear them down. May we walk in the righteousness you have freely given us. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

God’s Embrace

***Newsflash***news-426892_640

 I stopped wearing makeup. Well, except eyeliner. I know, settle down you say, whoa Deanna big breaking news. I have chosen to embrace my 49 year old face. If Alicia Keys can do it, I can too. Haha but seriously, I have always been a minimalist when it comes to makeup and ironically the older I get the less I see a need for it. The world puts such emphasis on beauty and improving how we look rather than embracing the process our bodies go through as we age.

I am not saying this is easy, there are certain things I have difficulty accepting but it is part of the process of loving myself.  The whole fearfully and wonderfully made kind of loving. Losing the makeup is just one more step. Funny thing, I have had more comments about my face or how I look in this last couple weeks than maybe ever. Perhaps there is something to this embracing who God made me to be.

One theme that repeats itself throughout the Bible is loving your neighbour as yourself. We may know this idea from an expert in the law trying to test Jesus by asking Him what is the greatest commandment. Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.

And tucked in the middle of Moses getting instruction directly from God for the law in Leviticus 19:18 it says,“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”

I want to take a little license with the idea of loving yourself. How do you feel about yourself? Can you boldly look at yourself in the mirror and say you are worthy? Can you inhale the truth that God takes great delight over you? I want you to practice this with me. You can take baby steps and look in the mirror and say God loves me or start with I love you. It will depend where your heart is at as to which statement is harder to digest.

Honestly can we love our neighbours authentically if we do not come from a place of being loved? If we ourselves do not receive God’s love how can we truly pour that out on to others? And so loving others as we do ourselves is not from the worldly point of view that we are full of ourselves and think we are all that, but through humility and receiving all that God has for us. Receiving is connected to believing.

So what’s the deal with the makeup? Believing I was enough has come incrementally. One part unlearning, one part renewing, one part persistence, one part humility, one part unconditional love by the Father = receiving His transformative love. It is a recipe with a whole lot of variables and some extra ingredients have been added or taken away over the years of healing. End result – I don’t need anybody’s approval but God’s alone. I am learning what I love and who I need to be. In that freedom, I can encourage others to do the same. Join me.

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